Meet the Candidates Night

North Shore Schools Board of Education Candidates
A Contested Election: 4 Candidates Running for 2 Seats

This year, it is a contested election with four candidates and two seats available. Community members including Tim Madden, Lisa Vizza, Anthony Stanco, and Andrea Macari are running for the North Shore Schools Board of Education. We thank Toni Labbate and Herman Berliner for their many years of service

Meet the Candidates Night will take place on Wednesday, May 2, in the North Shore High School Library (not cafeteria), at 8 PM.

Community members will have an opportunity to vote on the North Shore Schools Proposition 1 (2018-19 School Budget Proposal), Proposition 2 (Transportation Distance Limits), Proposition 3 (Capital Reserve Fund) and the Election of Trustees on Tuesday, May 15, 2018, from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM in the North High School Gymnasium.  

Bios from the Candidates:

Tim Madden

Occupation:
I have been a social studies teacher for 28 years –the past 20 at Great Neck South High School, and prior to that at Newtown High School in Elmhurst Queens.   Nearly five years ago my wife Cathy and I launched an online local newspaper called Northwordnews.com for which I serve as co-editor and have written extensively about our schools, village and town governments, and a wide variety of local issues.  In addition, I taught as an Adjunct Professor at the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education at Adelphi University from 2006-2008.

Qualifications
As a reporter on local government and school issues for nearly five years as well as a former Board of Education trustee in another district (Northport-East Northport UFSD), a member of the North Shore School District’s Legislative Action Committee for four years, a social studies teacher for 20 years in Great Neck and 8 years in the New York City system, an instructor in a graduate level teaching program, and a parent, I have had the opportunity to view and gain an understanding of different educational systems, local issues, and governing board operations from a variety of perspectives.  I was also active in the community as a youth baseball, softball, and soccer when my children were in elementary and middle school.   

Personal: 
I lived in Glen Head from 1974 to 1989 (1986 graduate of North Shore High School) and then returned to the community in 2010 with my wife, Cathy, and our three children - an 11 year  old who attends the middle school, and a freshman and a junior at the high school.  I graduated with a BA from Tufts University in 1990 (majors in English and history), and an MA in American History from Hunter College in 1996.

Statement:
I believe I have a great deal to contribute to the North Shore community as a school board trustee.  I have a well rounded and unique perspective on public schooling policy and governance that has developed out of having served and worked in a variety of positions in education for more than two decades and reporting on local boards and issues through my work for Northwordnews.com, an online newspaper serving the communities of the North Shore School District.  These experiences, in addition to my being a parent and a taxpayer, have enabled me to view public education and governing boards through many different lenses. 

I have learned that the most effective trustees on any governing board are not those who share my point of view on every issue (or even on most issues).  They are the ones that understand the importance of process and open deliberation in making policy; they are the ones who seek and welcome input from a wide variety of stakeholders and who do not make policy based solely on their own personal experiences; they are those who understand that good policy develops out of the clash of ideas and civil discourse; and they are the ones who are flexible and have the intellectual honesty to change their own positions on issues when the data, evidence, and arguments point them in that direction.   

Our school system is an excellent one that embraces an educational philosophy that promotes creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, socialization, and a love of learning – the skills and attributes that will enable our students to adapt and thrive in our rapidly changing world.   However a variety of financial issues present great challenges to our schools and its residents.  These include predatory water company practices, uncertainty over the outcome of the ongoing efforts of National Grid to reduce its tax obligation to the District, and the potential negative impact of recent federal tax reforms on resident’s wallets as well as on state coffers and by extension on school aid.

As a board member I would support the District continuing its aggressive legal efforts to protect residents from a more significant tax shift from National Grid properties than has already taken place as well as working together with local government and organizations to address the water company issue.  On the spending side, the District must on a regular basis evaluate its operations and programs to identify areas where we can operate more efficiently or implement reductions.  Additionally, in light of some of the data contained within last year’s district wide Equity Study and the anecdotal evidence provided by students at recent school board meetings, we must work towards ensuring that our schools promote a culture that is inclusive and free of intolerance and discrimination.  This effort will not only require serious consideration of the proposals offered by the student group Weave Together, but reaching out to students, parents, and faculty as well as people with expertise in this area for help in identifying and remedying school district practices and attitudes that may contribute to the problem. 

I am particularly interested in promoting openness and community involvement in school governance and have in the past few years offered suggestions to the Board of Education that were subsequently embraced.  At the annual organization meeting in July 2015, I recommended to the board, based on my experience in Northport, that the district’s Audit Committee be comprised not only of school board trustees but also of community members.  The next fall that proposal was introduced by a trustee and eventually adopted unanimously by the full board.  This past summer, when the Board seemed ready to put before voters a $20 million bond proposal in December 2017, I cautioned that there had not been an opportunity for community involvement (as there had been for the 2013 bond), and suggested that the brakes be put on the process to prevent what had happened the previous February in Great Neck (where a bond proposal had been defeated – largely due to the perception among many that there had not been adequate community input). At its next meeting, the North Shore BOE announced that they would slow down the process with the proposal now likely to go before voters at the end of 2018. 

I look forward to the opportunity to work with the Board, administrators, teachers, and the community to meet the challenges facing our district today.  Whichever candidates you choose to support on May 15, please turn out to vote and have your voice heard.

Lisa Vizza, LMSW

Occupation: 
Prior to starting my family, I worked as an information technology professional at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom, LLP, Northwell Health, and Cablevisions Systems Corporation.  As a social worker I have served as a therapist in an outpatient clinical setting serving individuals with significant acute and chronic healthcare and mental health challenges, as well as supporting children and families coping with social/emotional and learning challenges.

Qualifications:
Working as an information systems project director at three leading organizations in the legal, healthcare, and media/communications sectors gave me an understanding of the business problems facing broad and complex management structures. I was able to create collaborative teams tasked with the delivery of strategic business solutions utilizing advanced technology to meet high stakeholder expectations and organizational goals, while keeping a trained eye on tight project budgets, timelines and desired outcomes.  My training as a social worker and therapist serving children, families, couples and individuals with diverse needs, provides me with a unique perspective on how our students and families are confronted by and coping with physical and mental health, substance use, social/emotional, and environmental issues and challenges.  Listening to the needs and problems facing those groups informs my work - which is always strengths-based and solution-focused.

Personal: 
I’m a life-long resident and graduate of the North Shore Schools, growing up in Sea Cliff, and later settling my family in Glen Head where we now reside. I have been married to my husband Bob, an attorney, for 27 years and have three children, students of North Shore Public Schools since kindergarten. My eldest daughter graduated from North Shore High School in 2016 and is now a pre-Med student and Track & Field athlete at Dartmouth College; my son and younger daughter are students at the High School.  My father (now deceased) was a graduate of Sea Cliff High School and a 30-year employee of the District. I hold a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the Hofstra University School of Business, where I continued studies in the MBA program.  While my children were in elementary school, I attained a Masters Degree of Social Work from Adelphi University School of Social Work.  I hold a New York State license to practice social work and am a certified school social worker. I am proud to say that my family is 3rd generation North Shore!  My family has benefited greatly from a truly formative North Shore education that has served me well throughout my lifetime.

Qualifications: 
I am deeply committed to the North Shore Schools community and its educational values and ideals of educational excellence and opportunities for all students. Since 2003, I have served in a variety of District-based activities and initiatives including Co-President of the North Shore Coordinating Council of Parent Organizations, President of the North Shore Special Education PTA (SEPTA), Vice-President of the High School PTO, member of the Legislative Action Committee, Parent Member of the Committees on Special Education and Committee on Pre-School Education Special Education independent review committee, member of the Parent Sector of the North Shore Coalition Against Substance Abuse (”CASA”), as well as various administrative search and policy committees, among other activities.  My inspiration to be involved in groups such as these has always been student-centered and rests with the ultimate goal of delivering an optimal learning environment for our children.

Additionally, I hold leadership roles in local civic and charitable organizations and serve as President of the Glenwood Landing-Glen Head Civic Association and am a proud Trustee of the Nicholas J. Vizza Foundation for Pediatric Cardiology at St. Francis Hospital.  I also served as a speaker at the Parent Support Group at the Mill Neck Manor Early Childhood Center, a special education pre-school from which many North Shore students graduated prior to entering the District’s elementary schools, a large number of whom went on to become successful students and graduates.

My regular attendance at Board of Education public meetings as a voice of the school community and listening to the concerns of our residents and current Board of Trustees has been time well spent, and I would like to serve as an elected Trustee. I present a unique set of qualifications that would provide a fresh perspective to school governance as a member of the North Shore Board of Trustees. My professional and business background, an institutional knowledge of District process, coupled with my related experiences as an engaged community member, I believe can provide informed, thoughtful, and balanced guidance to our recently appointed Superintendent as he continues his transition and work in the pursuit of excellence in public education that our families currently receive. I personally value the skills of collaboration, sensitivity and responsiveness to the needs of others, resourcefulness, and flexibility in the face of planned and unplanned change, in an atmosphere of open dialogue and mutual respect.  Those attributes have served me well in developing meaningful relationships in a host of settings, and will continue to do so in the future.

Statement: 
As the District embarks on a new five-year strategic initiative, focused on propelling the mission of the North Shore Schools forward into the 21st century, I would like to continue my work in a deeper and more meaningful way by becoming a Trustee on the North Shore Board of Education.  I believe there are primary areas that I would encourage District administration and the Board of Trustees to continue to review and develop.

The first is addressing strategic ways provide quality educational programming and co-curricular initiatives that support the District’s proposed Strategic Goals and Shared Valued Outcomes, while remaining financially prudent and inside of the tax cap.  The District also needs to be constantly mindful of the additional local pressures facing the District and its residential and business taxpayers (American Water rate increases, LIPA/National Grid decommissioning and future assessment challenges, and the reduction of state and local tax deductions to taxpayers) which will only add to the vulnerability of our District to remain on its course of achieving its stated goals going forward.

While there may not be simple solutions to these challenges, here are options for addressing them:  proactively researching current educational initiatives in conjunction with a cyclical review of curriculum and educational offerings, to maximize opportunities that are in line with our Strategic Goals, and if applicable, modify courses and programming that are outdated relative to our goals and desired outcomes; engage in a deeper focus on and exploration of how the District can provide educational opportunities in STEAM education and novel research to support its role in developing skills for a society reliant on continuous changing technology; continue to review expenditures and budget items to identify opportunities for efficiencies in program offerings; continue to research and explore all opportunities for pooling resources with neighboring districts on hard costs for materials and services; and via the North Shore Legislative Action Committee, increase advocacy activities, in concert with neighboring Districts, local civic and community advocacy groups to lobby local legislators to address the issues of State Aid (including the Foundation Aid Formula), and especially the issue of unfunded/underfunded state mandates and budget items that are currently not recognized as exclusions, as well as the local pressures stated above.

The second area which is at the forefront of most school communities, and which has been formally identified by North Shore as a need, is addressing the emotional needs of students through the development of enhanced educational curriculum and programming. The topics of social and emotional health, coping and resiliency, and the diversity of persons and thought, needs to be a focus to ensure that by the time a student graduates, they have the tools to successfully navigate through the social challenges of a complex, diverse, modern world where information is obtained instantaneously and social media shapes society. Coupled with the fact that stress, pressure and expectations for “success” have exponentially increased, there is a need to address the dramatic increase in anxiety, depression and other emotional issues in our youth.

Here are some examples of how the school community might address this issue: prioritize the need to implement K-12 “mental wellness” initiatives that are research-based and effective; seek and evaluate best methods and practices to comply with recently introduced state mandates that will require school districts to enhance their mental health curriculum; review of the role of district emotional support staff and identify opportunities for increased interface with student body, faculty, staff, and parents/primary caregivers; and develop district wide programming that addresses anxiety, stress and depression and facilitates opportunities for downtime.

I would like to add one final note regarding my personal philosophy about my volunteer service. I strongly believe in the importance of being a hands-on leader who is visible and accessible to the community. While serving the district in my role as a volunteer, I have continued to be involved and engaged with school and community groups, in order to both contribute to our community and obtain greater awareness of the wants and needs of both the school population and the broader North Shore residential community at large. Communication and collaboration are the two key components to success as a representative of the North Shore Board of Education.

To that end, I believe I have clearly demonstrated an ability to connect with a variety of stakeholders and will be able to comprehensively and effectively represent and reflect the diverse voices and values of our North Shore community and meet the myriad challenges to local public education that may lie ahead in the future.

It would be a privilege for me to serve the North Shore community as a Trustee on the Board of Education. I ask you to demonstrate your support and vote for me on Wednesday, May 15, 2018. Thank you.

 

Anthony Stanco

Occupation
Semi-retired real estate investment, management, and attorney.  Formerly a real estate agent, a youth drug abuse outreach program coordinator, a carpenter and contractor, a teacher here in New York, in Michigan, and in Vermont.

Qualifications
Graduating from the State University College at Geneseo, NY in 1976 with teacher certification I entered the field at a time when there were 20,000 unemployed teachers in Nassau County due to declining enrollment.  At Geneseo, formerly a NORML school, the respect I had for the dedication of my classmates gave me inspiration to hold close to teaching; first as a substitute, then full-time private, then public.  My experiences were unique and informative.  My experience as a trial attorney often directly concerned children's needs, in all settings.

Personal:
My father was born at home on Franklin Ave in Sea Cliff.  I attended St. Boniface and taught CCD. Also the Sea Cliff Gospel Chapel.  I am a Christian Quaker, and was the clerk of the Martha's Vineyard Meeting of the Society of Friends.  As a Friend I live by five values: nonviolence, honesty, simplicity, tolerance, and equality.  My simple Stoic beliefs are shared by my Roman Catholic wife and impressed upon our three sons.  I love sailing.

Goals:
First off I want to thank everyone that signed my petition, because so far running for Trustee has been wonderfully cathartic, and I intend to run again next year, because of the sheer exhilaration just to know I can through this forum explain what is a meaningful education for my children.  I doubt that I will be elected this year because I am probably too critical of the system we have in place, and am calling for a complete reexamination by the public of what we are offering our children.

During a meeting with the Superintendent Search Committee I had mentioned that with the amount of money available to the District and the education our children receive, we are not getting a good value.  Afterward, another parent approached me and boldly said it would be worth paying twice what we pay to have what we have.  I believe that is called “budget shaming.” My response was to ask the person if they remembered what Melville said about “loose fish and fast fish.”  Essentially, as to that exchange, you can see that we are living separate dreams, but I do hope I can convince all the people in the District of the harsh realities that we are facing.

In order to do this, if elected, I will be present one night each month to meet with any and all members of the community that are interested to find those common values we believe are necessary to raise morally strong, compassionate, self-aware, able, confident individuals.  I am certain that we have much in common, yet we have failed pretty miserably to keep the majority of our community's children away from the commonly bad behavior of any community with a budget one fifth of what we have.

It might be true that 99% of our children will go on to college.  Do we actually believe it is the school that motivates children to do so, or is this really just a reflection of the family values we share?  If we all took this goal of education truly seriously we would have at the least 100% of the children in our school not smoking cigarettes, not meeting with friends and consuming alcohol or other drugs, not interested in the prurient, but, rather, all shining with the real enlightenment of life in its best forms, and every student finding themselves accepted to a school of a better quality than the one they have been, with a larger scholarship, because a really good education achieves just that.

When I was a teacher, the thing that struck me most was the slight differences between an “A” student and failing student.  It occurred to me that what made a child succeed was entirely emotional, and had less to do with ability.  In fact, I consider any human being to be smart enough to a formidable enemy that it would be wise to show some respect for, or possibly be suffering the consequences for the lack of it.  And I consider every human being to be of equal value to the next, and that it is essential for public schools and public servants in particular to treat every person not only with outward respect, but with an attitude each individual has something of serious value to be considered. 

I will never “write off” anyone.  But I can say we do have within our school district people that do just that, because they are somewhat secure in their standing and feel they have some entitlement that others need to show a little extra respect before they actually will start listening to the content of what is being shared with them.  I also know that candidates for the school board have been invited to cocktail parties and fund raisers and throw such parties and somehow through such venues convince people of their fitness to lead.  May I hereby suggest that like Marshall McLuhan said, the medium is the message.  You may take this as you like.  I will not campaign in any such manner.  I will buy no signs and ask for no money.  If you wish to support me, just buy some poster paper and crayons and have you or your children just write my name for Trustee and hang it anywhere you like except for directly in front of school property where no such signs should be allowed.

If elected I want to hire in house counsel(s) to do the legal work for the District.  I do not wish to have any more legal billing machines work for the District.  We will be served far better at less cost.  I would like to explore where in the curriculum and activities in our schools we are promoting through content and experience healthy thinking and an ability to reject bad thinking.  I had the experience of reading The Emperor's New Clothes to a kindergarten class and when I came to the part where the tailors said “People who can't see these clothes are stupid,” the staff member in the room (not the teacher that day) informed me that the word stupid wasn't used.  So I laughed, because stupid is to know better but not do better.

I remember going to one Board Meeting years ago that I refer to as the “Italian Meltdown.”  The short of it was that the Board clearly slighted the Italian community without much regard for all that had been shared.  So here is the thing about Italians.  In the most popular Italian fairytale, the lesson is twofold.  The one lesson is that if you don't go to school you will grow up to be a jackass.  I have to say jackass because you will remember that they were all boys, and girls were not allowed in school back then.  So girls were off the hook in those days.  Not now.  The more important lesson, is to follow your conscience.  It is my goal to see that all the children grow up knowing that “when you feel temptation and the urge is very strong, give a little whistle, give a little whistle, and always let your conscience be your guide.”

 

Andrea Macari, Ph.D.

Occupation:
I am an Associate Professor of Psychology at Suffolk County Community College where I have worked full-time since 2005.  I have taught a diverse array of courses over my career including Developmental Psychology, Educational Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Human Sexuality and College Seminar. 

I am also a Clinical Psychologist in private practice, specializing in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and behavioral disorders using cognitive behavioral therapy.  I regularly publish and present my research in psychology journals and at academic conferences.  Most recently, my research has focused on two distinct areas: suicide prevention and pedagogical innovations.

Qualifications:
Within the North Shore District, I serve as the Secretary of the Legislative Action Committee (LAC), a member of Glen Head’s Shared Decision Making Committee, and a member of the Core Five Year Strategic Planning Committee.  Working in higher education has allowed me to participate on committees addressing issues related to pedagogy, disability services, accreditation, discrimination and sexual harassment, computing and technology, and faculty hiring.  Additionally, I chaired a SUNY General Education Assessment Committee to examine PSY101 course outcomes.  In this role, I created an instrument that was administered to approximately 2,000 psychology students at Suffolk to assess learning.  I oversaw the administration of the assessment, analyzed and interpreted the data, and wrote a subsequent report offering recommendations to the College.  My work was cited as “a model of good assessment and reporting” and presented to Middle States during the accreditation site visit.   

Personal:
I earned an A.B. in psychology magna cum laude from Barnard College of Columbia University, a M.A. with Distinction in psychology from Hofstra University, and a dual Ph.D. in Clinical and School Psychology from Hofstra University.  I am board certified in Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychologists.  I am a lifelong resident of the community and a graduate of North Shore.  My husband and I live in Glen Head with our daughter who is a second grader at Glen Head Elementary School and graduate of the Roslyn Trinity Co-op.

Statement:
It is with great pride that I announce my candidacy for North Shore Board of Education Trustee.  As a North Shore graduate and lifelong resident, my commitment to the community is strong.  Raised in Old Brookville, I attended Glen Head Elementary School, the Middle School, and the High School.  The benefits of my North Shore education remain with me today.  Throughout my schooling, gifted educators underscored the importance of leadership, service, and lifelong learning, values I still hold.  

When it was time for my husband and me to purchase a home, we chose North Shore Schools because we wanted our daughter to have the same educational experiences that I had.  But I was quickly confronted with the reality that public education had changed drastically since I was a student.  Children are contending with challenges due to academic and social pressures that never before existed.    Three years ago, when my daughter, Ellamarie entered kindergarten, I became active in the District with the hope of mitigating some of those pressures.  I am currently the Secretary of the Legislative Action Committee, a member of Glen Head School’s Shared Decision Making Committee, and a member of the District’s Core Five Year Strategic Planning Committee.  While I feel proud of my contributions, I believe there is much more work to be done in regard to educating the whole child.  A seat at the Board table would best enable me to achieve this objective.

Every decision a Board of Education makes should be made within the context of child development.  Conversations surrounding curriculum and instruction, school safety, mental health, special education, and substance use prevention are just a few examples.  As a clinical psychologist, board certified in behavioral and cognitive psychology, I am trained to address the academic, social, emotional and developmental needs of all children.  In fact, I have been doing just that for the last 12 years in my private practice where I treat patients of all ages and disorders.  In addition, I have been fortunate to work in higher education in various capacities teaching at the 2-year, 4-year, and doctoral level.  This work has allowed me to combine my passion for mental health with my love of teaching.  At Suffolk County Community College where I am a professor of psychology, I have spearheaded many initiatives focused on mental health and suicide prevention.  The student thrives best when an educational institution provides high quality education in an environment that fosters student wellbeing. 
I am confident that my experience in psychology, mental health, and child development will bring a new perspective to the Board’s deliberations.  Furthermore, I promise to offer a fiscally balanced approach to decision-making by upholding my fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers while still meeting the standard of excellence that has always defined North Shore Schools.  Please support my candidacy and vote on May 15, 2018.

 

The North Shore Schools Budget Vote/Election of Trustees will be on Tuesday, May 15, 2018, from 7:00 AM - 10:00 PM at the High School Gymnasium. Voter registration will take place in the Central Office, 112 Franklin Avenue, Sea Cliff on Saturday, May 5, from 10 AM - 2 PM. For the latest budget news, please visit www.northshoreschools.org in the Budget/Financial section

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